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Short Courses For Serious Readers: An Inside View

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 3rd December 2013

From Shauna Waterman, Market Research Intern

MRL_5238-2 72dpiI’ve been at The Reader Organisation for about two months now and I’m thoroughly enjoying my time here. I’ve become comfortable in my market research role as part of the Literary Learning department and feel like part of the team. Part of my role is researching and promoting TRO’s Short Courses for Serious Readers and I was lucky enough to attend one of them recently to find out what it is that I have been promoting.

Dr Clare Ellis ran the ‘Test of the Sea’ Short Course which took a look at Joseph Conrad’s seafaring novel Lord Jim. I wasn’t sure what to expect at the course and was worried because Lord Jim wasn’t exactly a text that I would have ever picked up myself. However, sitting in Calderstones Mansion House with a cup of tea on that cold October morning surrounded by people who were enjoying Lord Jim, it felt like I was amongst friends and the fact that I wasn’t sure I’d like the text didn’t even factor into it anymore. For me, because I wasn’t analysing the book or worrying about whether my opinion was right or wrong, it allowed me to just enjoy it. I felt comfortable enough to read aloud, get involved and just felt like part of the group.

The absolute best part of the course was when at the end of the day a participant said before he left that there were times during the day when his “heart beat a little bit faster”. This showed me what the Short Courses for Serious Readers can mean to someone who has attended and how reading for pleasure in a friendly environment can make us feel.

Another part of my role is to take care of evaluation forms when a course is over. Reading the evaluation forms from the ‘Test of the Sea’ gave me an idea of how great participants felt after they’d attended the course and what they wanted from future courses. The Short Courses can open your eyes to literature that you may never have noticed or thought that you’d appreciate. Even if you have read the text before, you can discover so many different things about it that you may not have ever thought or considered previously. Around like minded company, you feel comfortable enough to express your personal responses to the text and have an opinion.

It was so great to get an idea of what I have been researching and promoting and seeing that reading aloud with other people who enjoy reading is fun and comforting. It was such a great experience and it’s something that I’d hope to experience again.


Stop the World I Want to Get Off!
As the shops start to heave, Christmas jingles jangle, and present-buying pressure begins to mount, we’ll spend the day looking at moments of escape from the whirling world in Wordsworth, Macneice and others, as well as considering how we might take peace with us, back into the fray.

When: Friday 6th December, 10am-4pm
Where: Calderstones Mansion House, Calderstones Park, Liverpool
Cost: £30 (including lunch); £15 concessions

Can a Book Change your Life?
It’s January. A time for resolutions, for embracing change. But what do we really mean when we set out to change our lives? And can a book really help us do that?

When: Saturday 18th January, 10am-4pm
Where: Calderstones Mansion House, Calderstones Park
Cost: £30 (including lunch); £15 concessions

To reserve a place on any of our Short Courses for Serious Readers or for more information contact Sophie Johnson: 207 7229 or go to our website

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